Easter in Naivasha

After much too-ing and fro-ing and undecided decision making a bunch of us headed to Naivasha to spend the Easter weekend.

Our transport, accommodation and even who was coming was up in the air until the last minute.  Despite that, things fell into place and we eventually had a good time.

Naivasha is about 1.5 hours outside of Nairobi in an area of Central Province called the Rift Valley.  It’s aptly named the Breadbasket of Kenya as much of the nation’s farming activity is located there.  The volcanic terrain and slightly cooler temperatures reminded me a little bit of NZ.

On Friday morning Elliot, Vicky, Jono (a friend from church) and I hired a cab and headed out of town.  We were met in Naivasha by Matt – another Kiwi mate who lives in Nakuru.  There was much excitement, but concrete plans on what we were going to do there.  That’s ok because we found stuff to do!

We hung out…

Went looking for Hippos at the famous Lake Naivasha…

Jono, Jacki and Iattempted to cycle through Hell’s Gate National Park on the Saturday.

Unfortunately we reached the limits of our fitness far too early and didn’t make it to the famous gorge that gave Hell’s Gate its name!  We did see the Black Obsidian caves – which were nice, but considering the effort it took to get there, it was a wee bit of a let down…  At least I got to ponder life a little bit.

                                                            

We also glimpsed some amazing scenery and wildlife – Zebras, Gazelles, Antelope, Baboons, Wild Boar.

Jono and I were fortunate enough to crash at his friend’s place (Jacki) for the weekend and she really looked after us!  She works for a nursery and lives in staff accommodation.  Luckily it was next to some campsites, so we could hang out there during the day.  When we weren’t at the campsites we were entertained by her neighbours.

Didn’t make it to Mt Longonot or Crescent Island WildLife Sanctury.  We were limited by a lack of transport (and planning), but that’s ok because we’ll be back again!

Switch out the pace and Lean Back

Over the weekend I had to go downtown a few times to run some errands and pass through as I visited a friend’s church.  As I wandered the streets of the CBD (I kinda got lost), I reflected on my time in Malindi the weekend before.

Malindi is part of the Southern Coast of Kenya that boarders the Indian Ocean.  It is home to the Swahili peoples, who have a mixture of Bantu African, Arab and Portuguese heritage.  Since the 14th Century it’s been a port city for foreign powers.  You can read more info here.

Needless to say, the contrast between this coastal town and the capital city is huge. Constant hustling, jostling, tooting of the city was replaced with much lying flat and soaking up the sun.  In Nairobi, when I see pools of water, I try and dodge them… particularly if there’s a greenish tinge and a suspect smell.  In Malindi, I could not get enough of the water…  And the comparison goes on.

Lovely white sand

What’s a volunteer doing living it up at the beach anyway?

My workmate’s wife, Anna has been volunteering with a group of American missionaries and their annual retreat was being held at a beach resort in Malindi.  They needed volunteers to look after their children over the weekend and Anna asked Vicky and me if we would like to help out.  Of course, it wasn’t the 5 days at a beach resort, fully catered & expenses paid that lured us.  It was our heart for the children!  🙂

Naturally, we did not complain.  Our packed schedule consisted of helping run a children’s program in the morning and doing whatever we pleased in the afternoon.  I looked after a group of 4 & 5 year olds with another missionary from US.  It was entertaining but also perplexing at times. Vicky had a group of 10 year olds.  The whole experience was really enjoyable.  It was overwhelming having the parents and others missionaries constantly thanking us!  But we were like “no, really – thank YOU!”

It was also a nice opportunity to spend time with the missionaries and hear about their work in and around Central Province.  A large number of them were medical professionals serving as long-term volunteers.  There were also baby centre (orphanage) directors and people heading up other projects.  We had a retirement celebration for one of the missionaries who helped build a new nursing school in Tenwick.  It was inspiring hearing about her service in Kenya for 20 years.

I also got a chance to witness a couple of young people being baptised in the Indian Ocean.  That was pretty cool (well, actually it was still warm…).

Uncomfortable realities never leave

In Nairobi you get used to people hustling – Matatu conductors yelling at you to get in their van when your minding your business walking down the road; people hawking maps, books, board games and car accessories in the middle of a traffic jam; ladies selling roasted peanuts in bizarre locations that are seemingly strategic…  I get it – people working hard to make ends meet. 

On the beach however, it felt a little weird.  No, they weren’t hawking matatu rides or peanuts.  There was a guy however, hawking a camel ride and I couldn’t resist… 

But camel man aside, there were young men trying to sell you… stuff.  It could be a boat rides for snorkelling or to charge you for showing you a rock pool or illegal substances.  In a way, it was annoying because I just wanted to walk along the beach in peace.  But at the same time, it was a “good” reminder, that whilst I can take a break and escape the pressures of life, many people can’t.  I can run off to a safe little bubble where everything is beautiful, but any others are can’t run from hunger or abuse or persecution…

I’m glad that I went to the coast.  It was a nice break from Nairobi.  I’m also glad that I can come back to the crazy busy city, with so many people and so many pressures.  I’m glad that I can be reminded that I’m not in Kenya purely for holiday, but to lend a hand to the vulnerable who don’t get a weekend off.

The Truth

In Kenya we’ve been fortunate to develop a relationship with a couple who produce an online magazine called “Kweli” which translates to “The Truth”.  Recently they published an article I wrote about one of our clients.  You can find it on pages 18-19: